Basketball Star Armen Gilliam Dies Of Apparent Heart Attack

Armen Gilliam( — When former UNLV star and NBA veteran Armen Gilliam came out of retirement in 2005 to become player-coach of the ABA’s now-defunct Pittsburgh Xplosion at age 41, he certainly didn’t do it for the lucrative paycheck.

“If I wanted to make money, I’d go overseas,” Gilliam told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at the time. “I do this for the love of the game.”

It’s tragic but fitting then that Gilliam died Tuesday night doing what he enjoyed most. The 47-year-old Pennsylvania resident was playing in a pickup basketball game at the LA Fitness in Bridgeville when he collapsed on the court as a result of an apparent heart attack. He was rushed to nearby St. Clair Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly afterward.

Gilliam’s death shocked his former UNLV teammates and coaches, especially since he was seldom hurt throughout his 13-year pro career and he kept himself in excellent shape afterward by playing basketball and tennis almost daily. In fact, the 6-foot-9 big man routinely beat men younger than him down the floor during UNLV’s annual legends game and unleashed a memorable dunk during last season’s event.

“Everybody loved Armen and he loved everybody,” former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian said through a UNLV spokesman. “I think the world of him. I am just shocked.”